Showing Signs of Life
Over the past several years, first-time buyers made up about 42 percent of the market. As a result of home buyer tax credits, those first timers represent close to 50 percent of buyers. However, increasing activity in the upper price ranges shows that buyers in the move-up/luxury market are sparking the housing recovery as well.
In King County, pending sales* of entry/first-time/move-up homes (those priced $599,999 or less) were up more than 100 percent
over last March. In the move-up/luxury market ($600,000+), pending sales were up more than 150 percent over last year.This is clear evidence that the move-up/luxury market is making a good recovery, especially when you consider that this market has not directly benefited from home buyer tax credits like the lower price ranges have.
Why is the move-up/luxury market improving?
• Buyers who are hoping to “time” the bottom of the market
• Low interest rates
• The increased affordability of jumbo loans
At this time last year, interest rates on a jumbo loan were in excess of 8 percent due to a large number of lenders exiting the jumbo market.Today, many of those lenders are returning, which has helped bring interest rates on jumbo loans more in line with conforming loan rates: near 5.5 percent. In addition, King County FHA loan limits are up to $575,500, which means that a buyer can purchase a home with as little as 3.5 percent down payment as long as the loan does not exceed $575,500.
There is clear evidence that the move-up/luxury
market is making a good recovery, especially when you consider that this market has not directly benefited from home
buyer tax credits. ”
With increasing optimism in employment numbers and consumer confidence, as well as the increasing availability of financing products,the housing market recovery should continue at a steady pace.And as we are already seeing,the recovery appears to be taking place throughout the price points, not just in the markets that have been bolstered by tax credits.